The United States has condemned Russia for striking the Western-backed militants in Syria and denied that it is cooperating with Moscow in this regard.
Speaking at a press conference in Rome, Italy, on Wednesday, US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter called the airstrikes against terrorists “a fundamental mistake”.
“I have said before that we believed that Russia has the wrong strategy — they continue to hit targets that are not ISIL. We believe this is a fundamental mistake,” Carter claimed, using an acronym for the Daesh terrorist group.
“Despite what the Russians say we have not agreed to cooperate with Russia so long as they continue to pursue a mistaken strategy and hit these targets,” he added.
Earlier in the day, the Russian Defense Ministry said it was considering proposals from the US to coordinate operations against ISIL terrorists.
“On the whole, these proposals could be put in place,” defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said.
He added that US and Russian military officials were discussing technical details on Wednesday.
“What we will do is continue basic, technical discussions on the professional safety procedures for our pilots flying above Syria,” Carter said.
“That’s it. We will keep the channel open because it’s a matter of safety for our pilots,” he added.
A new US intelligence assessment has found Russia has targeted militant groups backed by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in Syria.
The assessment, shared by commanders on the ground, has led American officials to conclude that Russian warplanes have intentionally struck CIA-backed militants in a string of attacks running for days, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Meanwhile, US foreign policy expert Zbigniew Brzezinski, a strong supporter of the Obama administration, says the United States should retaliate if Russia does not stop bombing its assets in Syria.
Former US national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski
Moscow’s apparent decision to strike CIA-trained militants “at best” reflects “Russian military incompetence,” and worst, “evidence of a dangerous desire to highlight American political impotence,” Brzezinski, the national security adviser for former President Jimmy Carter, wrote in an article published by the Financial Times on Sunday.
He added that if Moscow continues to target these people, then Washington should retaliate against Russians.
Obama administration officials are debating how the United States can come to the aid of its proxy forces on the ground without risking a broader conflict, according to the Wall Street Journal.
US officials said Russia’s moves in Syria posed a direct challenge to the Obama administration’s foreign policy on the Middle East.
President Barack Obama is turning his back on possibly the last best chance to resolve the bloody Syrian war because he fears a backlash from Official Washington’s powerful coalition of neoconservatives and “liberal interventionists” along with their foreign fellow-travelers: Israel, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other Gulf sheikdoms.
The route toward peace would be to collaborate with Russia and Iran to get Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to accept a power-sharing unity government that would fairly represent Syria’s major religious and ethnic groups – Christians, Alawites, Shiites and moderate Sunnis – along with a commitment for free, internationally monitored elections once adequate security is restored.
But for such an arrangement to work, Obama also would have to crack down aggressively on U.S. regional “allies” to ensure that they stopped funding, supplying and otherwise assisting the Sunni extremist forces including Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front and the Islamic State (or ISIS). Obama would have to confront the Sunni “allies” – including Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey – as well as Israel.
His pressure would have to include stern action aimed at the global finances of the Gulf states – i.e., seizing their assets as punishment for their continuing support for terrorism – as well as similar sanctions against Turkey, possibly ousting it from NATO if it balked, and a withdrawal of political and financial support for Israel if it continued helping Nusra fighters and viewing Al Qaeda as the “lesser evil” in Syria. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Al-Qaeda, Saudi Arabia and Israel.”]
Obama also would have to make it clear to Syria’s “moderate” Sunni politicians whom the U.S. government has been subsidizing for the past several years that they must sit down with Assad’s representatives and work out a unity government or the American largess would end.
This combination of strong international pressure on the Sunni terror infrastructure and strong-arming internal players in Syria into a unity government could isolate the Sunni extremists from Al Qaeda and the Islamic State and thus minimize the need for military strikes whether carried out by Russia (against both Al Qaeda and ISIS) or the U.S. coalition (focusing on ISIS).
And, the arrival of Russian military support for the Assad government – as well as the increased backing from Iran and Lebanon’s Hezbollah – represented the moment when the prospect for peace was brightest, whatever one thinks of those various players. However, instead of working with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, President Obama chose to bend to the pressures of Official Washington.
Appeasing the Warmongers
Thinking he had stretched the tolerance of neocons and liberal hawks as far as he could by pushing through the nuclear deal with Iran, Obama fell in line behind their propagandistic denunciations of Assad and Putin. Obama’s administration joined in promoting the new favorite “group think” of Washington – that Putin had promised to only bomb the Islamic State and then reneged by attacking “moderate” rebels and their more powerful ally, Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front.
Conveniently, this storyline doesn’t cite the wording of Putin’s supposed “promise” although some articles do mention him vowing to attack “terrorist” groups, which the mainstream U.S. news media has interpreted as the Islamic State only. But this odd framing accepts the breathtaking premise that Al Qaeda is no longer a terrorist organization – apparently rehabilitated by the fact that Israel has been helping Al Qaeda’s affiliate, the Nusra Front, along the Golan Heights and prefers it to Assad’s continued rule. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Should US Ally with Al Qaeda in Syria?”]
Among the many purveyors of this “Putin lied” narrative is Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen, who on Tuesday repeated the canard that Putin had “promised” to strike only the Islamic State and then broke that promise. For good measure, Cohen added that the Russians had “invaded” Syria although they were formally invited by the recognized government of Syria.
“Yes, the Russians did invade,” Cohen wrote. “They sent war planes, mechanized units and even troops into Syria. They have begun bombing missions, apparently hitting insurgents seeking to topple Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad and not only, as Russian President Vladimir Putin promised, Islamic State units. Putin – surprise! – lied.”
Normally in journalism, before we accuse someone of lying, we show what they actually said and contrast it with the facts. But Official Washington has long since moved Putin into the free-fire zone of demonization. Anything can be said about him, whether based in reality or not, and anyone who objects to this “group think” is called a “Putin bootlicker” or a “Putin apologist.”
Thus, any reality-based skepticism is ruled out of the frame of debate. Such was the way that the United States plunged blindly into the Iraq War in 2003 when Saddam Hussein was the demonized figure and the Europeans who warned President George W. Bush not to invade were laughed at as “Euro-weenies.” American skeptics were “Saddam apologists.”
Cohen is back at it again in his Tuesday column, which – on the Internet – has the curious title “The High Cost of Avoiding War in Syria.” Cohen throws around the word “invasion” where Russia is involved – even when there was no “invasion” – but he advocates an actual U.S. invasion with cavalier hypocrisy.
Cohen slams Obama for not having established “a no-fly zone” in Syria earlier, which would have involved the United States bombing and destroying Syria’s air force, a clear act of aggression and an obvious boon to Al Qaeda and ISIS.
Cohen also says he was for “arming the rebels,” another violation of international law which – when tried by Obama to appease the drumbeat from Cohen and his ilk – led to many U.S.-trained and U.S.-armed rebels taking their equipment and skills to Al Qaeda and ISIS.
Yet, Cohen — on the prized opinion real estate of The Washington Post’s op-ed page and in his nationally syndicated column — unapologetically encourages an illegal invasion of another country while condemning Russia for doing the same except that Russia was following international law by working with the sovereign government of Syria and therefore has not “invaded” Syria.
We also are supposed to forget that Cohen’s ideas would benefit Sunni jihadists, such as the Al Qaeda-dominated “Army of Conquest” which could use the “no-fly zones” to mount a victorious offensive to capture Damascus and create a humanitarian crisis even worse than now.
Possibly with ISIS chopping off the heads of “infidels” – Christians, Alawites, Shiites, etc. – and with Al Qaeda having a new home in the center of the Middle East to plot terror strikes on the West, Cohen’s plan might necessitate a major U.S. military intervention that would get even more people killed and deal the final death blow to the American Republic.
In evaluating Cohen’s lame-brained double-think, it is worth remembering that he was one of the many U.S. opinion leaders who cheered on Secretary of State Colin Powell’s deceptive Iraq War speech to the United Nations on Feb. 5, 2003. Waving “we-love-Colin” pompoms alongside all his esteemed colleagues, Cohen laughed at anyone who still doubted that Saddam Hussein possessed hidden WMD stockpiles.
“The evidence he [Powell] presented to the United Nations – some of it circumstantial, some of it absolutely bone-chilling in its detail – had to prove to anyone that Iraq not only hasn’t accounted for its weapons of mass destruction but without a doubt still retains them,” Cohen wrote. “Only a fool – or possibly a Frenchman – could conclude otherwise.”
Ha-ha, did you get that clever line – “Only a fool – or possibly a Frenchman” – pretty funny except that by heaping ridicule on those of us who doubted Powell’s evidence, Cohen contributed to the deaths of some 4,500 U.S. soldiers, the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, the cost to U.S. taxpayers of more than $1 trillion, and chaos now spreading across not just the Middle East but into Europe.
In a normal place where there was some modicum of accountability, you would have expected Cohen to be banished to Storage Room B with his red stapler or worse. But no, Cohen is back running with the same juvenile in-crowd, behaving just as stupidly and just as recklessly as he has many times in the past.
But the larger problem is that President Obama appears intimidated by this collection of know-it-alls who preen across the editorial pages of The Washington Post and The New York Times or who hold down prestigious “fellowships” at the Brookings Institution or other big-name think tanks or who self-identify as “human rights activists” advocating “humanitarian” wars.
Arguably, Obama has always had an outsized regard for people with establishment credentials. It is, after all, how he rose through the ranks as first an extremely bright academic and later a talented orator and politician. Without family connections or personal wealth, he needed the approval of various influential individuals. If he offended them in some way, he risked being pigeonholed as “an angry black man.”
Indeed, the comedy duo Key & Peele developed a series of funny skits with Jordan Peele playing the always proper and controlled Obama and Keegan-Michael Key as “anger translator Luther.” Obama even invited “Luther” to translate Obama’s speech to the 2015 White House Correspondents Dinner, except that by the end of that talk Obama was expressing his own anger and Luther peeled away.
The problem in the real world is that Obama remains cowed by the Important People of Washington – represented in that oh-so-important crowd at the dinner – and bows to their misguided thinking.
Obama also is facing a beefed-up lobbying operation for Saudi Arabia to go along with the always formidable Israel Lobby. The Intercept reported that in September the Saudi kingdom added to its large stable of thoroughbred influence-peddlers by signing “Edelman, the largest privately owned public relations agency in the world [and] the Podesta Group … a lobbying firm founded by Tony Podesta, a major fundraiser for the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign.”
Indeed, the repressive Saudi kingdom may need some special P.R. help as it prepares to behead Ali Mohammed al-Nimr whose body would then be attached to a cross or otherwise displayed in a crucifixion that would leave his corpse to rot for several days as a warning to others. Al-Nimr is a Shiite who at the age of 17 in 2012 participated in a pro-democracy demonstration that was viewed as an affront to the monarchy.
The Saudis also have been waging a ruthless air war against impoverished Yemen, attacking Houthis who stem from a branch of Shia Islam which Saudi Sunni Wahhabism considers apostasy. The Saudi bombing campaign, which recently killed some 131 celebrants at a wedding inside Yemen, gets intelligence and logistical support from the Obama administration even though the slaughter of Houthis has benefited their Yemeni rivals, “Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula” who have gained ground behind the Saudi air offensive.
Yet, the Saudis’ P.R. battalions – along with the Israel Lobby – have kept Official Washington’s focus in other directions. Indeed, there are now so many false or dubious narratives dis-informing the capital’s “group think” that U.S. decisions are driven more by mythology than facts.
Obama could begin the process of restoring sanity to Washington by declassifying U.S. intelligence analyses on several key issues. For instance, Obama could release what’s now known about the Aug. 21, 2013 sarin gas attack outside Damascus.
After that attack, there was a rush to judgment at the State Department and within the mainstream U.S. news media to blame that atrocity on Assad’s forces, although I’m told that CIA analysts have since moved away from that view and now agree that the attack was likely a provocation designed to draw the U.S. military into the war on the side of the Sunni jihadists. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “The Collapsing Syria-Sarin Case.”]
Though Obama and other officials have dropped the sarin accusations from their public speeches – harping instead on “barrel bombs” as if those homemade weapons are some uniquely evil device – Obama has refused to retract the sarin allegations which helped shape the hyper-hostile “conventional wisdom” against Assad.
Similarly, Obama has withheld U.S. intelligence information about the July 17, 2014 shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine, letting stand hasty accusations blaming Putin. Obama appears infatuated by the trendy concept of “strategic communications” or “Stratcom,” which blends psy-ops, propaganda and P.R. into one noxious brew to poison public opinion about one’s “enemy.”
With the recent Russian military intervention in Syria, Obama had the chance to correct the record on the sarin-gas attack and the MH-17 shoot-down but instead continued the “Stratcom” both in his United Nations speech and his news conference last Friday with more hyperbolic attacks against Assad and Putin. In doing so, Obama apparently bowed to the desired rhetoric of hardliners like U.S. Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power and the editorial-page masters of The Washington Post and The New York Times.
Obama may have hoped his harsh language would appease the neocons and their liberal-hawk pals, but the tough-guy rhetoric has only opened him up to new attacks over the disparity between his words and deeds. As the clueless columnist Richard Cohen wrote, “A no-fly zone needs to be established. It is not too late to do something. By doing so little, the United States has allowed others to do so much.” [Emphasis in original.]
In other words, Cohen appears to want the U.S. military to shoot down Russian planes over Syria, even though the Russians have been invited by the recognized government to be there and the U.S. has not. The minor complication of possible human extinction from a nuclear war apparently is of little consequence when compared to the street cred that one gets from such manly talk.
For Official Washington – and apparently Obama – the peace option is regarded as unacceptable, i.e., working with Russia and Iran to achieve a power-sharing unity government in Damascus (with the promise of elections as soon as possible) along with the United States demanding from its regional “allies” a complete shutdown of assistance to the Islamic State, Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front and all other Sunni jihadists.
That option would require Obama and the neocon/liberal-hawk cowboys to get down off their high horses, admit they have been tossing their lasso in the wrong direction – and compromise.
Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).
Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad © SANA / Reuters
Western countries are using terrorism as an instrument of control, Syrian President Bashar Assad said in a recent interview. He also said that he is ready to step down if his departure is the solution to the four-year-long conflict.
“From the beginning it was clear to us that there were foreign hands behind terrorism in Syria,” Assad said in interview with Iran’s Habar TV.
President Assad thinks that the US-led coalition against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) is ineffective because the West does not want to defeat terrorist groups. In fact, it wants to preserve the balance between the warring sides to “perpetuate the process of erosion in Syria and Iraq and later other countries of the region, so that we all remain weak for decades and maybe generations.”
“How can the United States and its allies fight terrorism or ISIS in Syria and Iraq while their closest allies in the government of Erdogan and Davutoglu are supporting terrorists and enabling them to cross the borders and bring weapons, money and volunteers through Turkey?” he asked.
Since the US-led coalition was formed, terrorism expanded geographically and its recruits multiplied, the Syrian president said.
“God willing it [Syria, Iran and Hezbollah] will be able to defeat terrorism which is a new instrument for subjugating the region,” he stressed.
Unlike the US-led coalition, Russia together with Iran, Iraq and Syria have “great chances of success.”
“It must succeed. Otherwise, the whole region, not only one or two countries, will be destroyed,” Assad said.
Russia, as well the Soviet Union in the past, “[has] never tried to impose anything on Syria, especially in this crisis,” he said stressing that, as opposed to the US, Russia is against interference, hegemony and violations of the UN Charter.
‘If my departure is the solution, I will never hesitate to do that’
President Assad once again stated that he is ready for political dialogue with all Syrians – but not with foreign powers. “Any talk about the political system or the officials in this county is an internal Syrian affair,” he said.
“When the Syrian people decide that a certain individual should stay, he will stay; and when the Syrian people decide that he should go, he will go immediately,” the president said. “If my departure is the solution, I will never hesitate to do that,” he added.
Assad stressed that no state in the world conducts dialogue with terrorists and that they should be subject to the laws and brought to justice.
“However, the state might conduct dialogue with terrorists in one case, when the objective of the dialogue is for the individuals who carried out terrorist acts to lay down their arms and embrace the state and the law,” he added, noting that this has actually happened in Syria, with the government having held talks with various reconciliation-seeking groups, granting them amnesty and giving them an opportunity to go back to their normal lives.
How does the Iranian economy feel after 40 years of the economic blockade? How can Russia and Iran develop cooperation in the future? Pravda conducted an interview on the subject with Rosnano investment director, Vadim Veschezerov.
“A lot has been said recently about the Russian-Iranian cooperation in the field of high technologies. Can Russia and Iran cooperate in the high-tech industry instead of oil and fruit?”
“In my view, this is exactly where we can work together most effectively. Russia and Iran are competitors when it comes to oil. Fruit is growing in many other countries of the world, not just in Iran. Iran is an interesting country, because this is the only highly developed, high-tech country of the Islamic world. In all other countries of the Islamic world, even if they have ultramodern industry, they have achieved it with someone else’s help. Iran has achieved everything alone. In some areas, Iran is a big player. Iran has a very good chemical industry and the world’s only independent pharmaceutical industry.
“I’m not talking about the nuclear program of Iran. Unlike Pakistan and other countries, Iran had no opportunity to borrow – the country was doing everything alone.”
“Has Russia lost the moment for developing cooperation with Iran? We had a unique opportunity, when Iran was living in a blockade, but now there are plenty of Americans and Europeans there.
“We have two or three years. I am personally studying the events that are now happening in the country. Unfortunately, we have very few people in Russia, who realize the peculiarities and structure of Iran, or how to build relationships with the Iranian side.
“Technically, we must explore every area where we can cooperate. In almost 40 years of blockade, the Iranians have learned to do many things and they have reached great progress, but, of course, they can not do everything. For example, their electronics is a very weak point. They are interested in chemistry, mathematics and computer science.
Not that long ago, the secretary of the Supreme Coordination Council of Free and Special Economic Zones of Iran, Akbar Torkan, named five main branches of classical economics that in his view are interesting for foreigners. They are petrochemical, automotive, power generation, steel and cement industries.
“Any industry needs high technologies. In Iran, there is a very strong group of companies working in the field of nanotechnology – this is a priority direction for them. This area is entrusted to the Iranian Council for the development of nanotechnologies.
“We must not forget that the country has been living under the conditions of economic blockade for 40 years. They have learned not only to survive, but to develop independently. As they say: “Thank you, America. You’ve turned us from consumers to entrepreneurs.”
“In what areas does Rosnano intend to cooperate with Iran?”
“We are most attracted to pharmaceuticals. We have something that interests the Iranian side – drugs and medical devices. In Iran, there are very interesting medical devices and medications that can be potential on the international market. In India, the pharmaceutical industry is completely built on copying others, and the Iranians have their own their developments.
“They have a very unique system to encourage scientists and engineers to go into business. For example, if you offer a startup in the high-tech industry, the state can pay a share in the company for you. In three or four years, if you fulfill the agreement with the state, if you create a product, a medication or something else, the state will sell you this share for one real.
“Now that the sanctions are being removed, Russian energy companies have many opportunities in Iran. The USSR had built most of the Iranian energy industry – and they remember that.”
Interview conducted by Said Gafurov
Hillary Clinton in Her Own Words
Key leaders from around the world are present at the United Nations this week to discuss critical issues; one of the most pressing is Syria. How did we get to this point with half the Syrian population (almost 12 million) displaced and under-populated but huge areas of Syria now controlled by ISIS, Al Qaeda (Nusra) and other fanatical fundamentalist groups?
Hillary Clinton’s 2014 book Hard Choices reveals important information about the first years of the Syrian conflict and how we got where we are today. Clinton’s account conveys the perception, priorities and bias at the top level of the Obama Administration. It describes policy differences within the administration and the common assumptions and goals which have led to the current disastrous situation.
Clinton’s chapter on Syria is titled “Syria: A Wicked Problem”. It documents how the US and regional allies tried to overthrow the Damascus government. The “wicked problem” is that there was no easy way. Attack directly? Train proxy army? Supply the armed opposition with weapons secretly or publicly? Apply “No Fly Zone”? Bomb Damascus? These are the questions considered. The dominance of neoconservative mentality in Washington and western media is demonstrated by the fact that foreign demands that “Assad must go” are rarely questioned despite the fact it’s in clear violation of international law and the UN Charter.
Clinton’s unwillingness to let go of the “regime change” requirement regarding a sovereign state, coupled with a moralistic but biased outrage, suggests someone who does not respect international law and could be dangerous as President: hypocritical, prejudiced and self-righteous.
Following are specific points of interest from “Syria: A Wicked Problem”.
Clinton echoes the western narrative about the Syrian conflict
The crisis began in early 2011, when Syrian citizens, inspired in part by the successful peaceful protests in Tunisia and Egypt, took to the streets to demonstrate against the authoritarian regime of Bashar al Assad. As in Libya, security forces responded with excessive force and mass detentions which in turn led some Syrians to take up arms to defend themselves and, eventually, to try to topple Assad.” (p 447)
This description is widespread but misleading. In his 2007 article Seymour Hersh exposed the U.S. promotion of Sunni fundamentalists to undermine Syria and Iran. In 2010 Secretary of State Clinton pressed Syrian President Bashar al Assad to comply with Israeli and US calls to stop supporting the Lebanese resistance and break relations with Iran. Was Clinton especially hostile to the Syrian President because he did not comply with her requests/demands and soon after forged an agreement with Iran? She makes no mention of this in her book but it is obviously relevant to the issue of Syria-USA relations.
Regarding the so-called peaceful protesters, in fact, there was a violent element from the start. In Deraa in March 2011 several police were killed. In the original “capital of the revolution”, Homs, a very credible eye-witness reported armed demonstrators initiating the violence.
Clinton confirms the anti-Assad obsession of the Gulf monarchies
Sunni countries, especially Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf states, backed the rebels and wanted Assad gone. (p 450)
This presents a baffling inconsistency: If the Syrian uprising was about “freedom and democracy” why was it being heavily promoted by repressive monarchies Saudi Arabia and Qatar?
Clinton was focused on building the anti-Assad forces instead of working toward diplomatic resolution
As the crisis unfolded, one of the biggest challenges we faced was helping the opposition unite across the country’s many religious, geographic and ideological lines. (p 449)
In early 2012 she coordinated the cynically named “Friends of Syria” coalition. This was the group of countries hostile to Syria and collectively agreeing how they would support a political front, support an armed insurrection and promote the “activists” fighting for freedom and democracy while on the payroll. At the first meeting in Tunisia in February 2012, as chaos was spreading in neighboring Libya, the “Friends of Syria” discussed the implementation of economic and other sanctions against Syria, training of “Syrian civil opposition leaders”. Clinton records “behind the scenes there was a lot of talk in Tunis about funneling weapons to the rebels”. (p 452).
Clinton distorts the history in several areas
For example, regarding the findings of the Arab League mission which toured Syria in December-January of 2011/2 she says:
Arab monitors went to Syria’s battle-scarred cities … once again it became clear that Assad had no intention of keeping his word. In late January 2012, the Arab League pulled the observers out in frustration and asked the UN Security Council to back its call for a political transition. (p 450)
In contrast with Clinton’s description, the mission report speaks about the Syrian government’s cooperation. The mission wanted to continue but was stopped by the Arab League itself, presumably because the findings were contradicting the policy of the dominant powers in the Arab League.
Among other things, the Arab League mission report documented:
(a) violence by rebels against government and civilians including the bombing of a civilian bus;
(b) false and exaggerated reports in the international media;
(c) pro and anti government demonstrations which were NOT disrupted;
(d) overall Syrian government cooperation and compliance with requests.
Clinton casually dismisses the consequences of the “No Fly Zone” in Libya
The campaign in Libya began with an innocent sounding UN Security Council Resolution calling for the protection of civilians. Both China and Russia abstained rather than voting to veto the resolution. Then they realized they had been tricked. In her book, Clinton describes how Russia “chafed as the NATO-led mission to protect civilians accelerated the fall of Qaddafi”. In reality the NATO led mission “to protect civilians” resulted in vastly more civilian deaths than had occurred before it began.
Horace Campbell and Maximilian Forte have written two solid accounts describing the reality versus myths of regime change in Libya. Clinton’s characterization of “accelerating” the fall of Qaddafi is a cynical understatement, like her self congratulatory comment that “we came, we saw, he died” after rebels killed Qaddafi on the street. Many of the refugees drowning in the Mediterannean Sea or reaching the shores of Italy today are a direct consequence of that operation. Yet who has been held to account?
Clinton chastises Russian and Chinese diplomats for not supporting UN Security Council resolutions
These resolutions placed all the blame for the Syrian conflict on the Damascus government while making no demands of foreign states pumping weapons and jihadis into the country. Clinton describes the Russian and Chinese actions as “despicable”:
Are we for peace and security and democratic future, or are we going to be complicit in the continuing violence and bloodshed? I know where the United States stands … Russia and China used their veto power to prevent the world from condemning the violence. To block this resolution was to bear responsibility for the horrors on the ground. It was, as I said later, despicable. (p 452)
Clinton maintains the public facade that the Obama Administration did not supply weapons in the early years of the conflict
On page 460 she claims: “We provided the rebels with ‘nonlethal’ aid, including communications gear and rations, starting in March 2012, but we held the line against contributing arms and training.” This was the public stance but in reality the CIA was heavily involved in transferring weapons to the Syrian armed opposition beginning late 2011. Just as Ronald Reagan and Oliver North used subterfuge to supply weapons to the Contras in Nicaragua in the 1980s, so the CIA and Obama Administration found the perfect way to get weapons to the Syrian opposition without having it recorded or accounted for: they stole weapons from the Libyan military arsenal and shipped them to the Syrian armed opposition as confirmed in this declassified DIA report.
Clinton documents bad faith involved in early negotiation efforts
The role of Kofi Annan and diplomatic efforts to resolve the crisis are discussed. While Annan was trying to get an agreement in the first Geneva conference, Qatar and Turkey were pushing for more military aid to the rebels “whatever the outcome in Geneva”. (p 457) While superficially agreeing to drop the demand for ‘regime change’, Clinton indicates that they were still committed to Assad not being part of a post-conflict Syrian coalition government, a major precondition that precludes compromise.
Clinton exalts her effort to ally with General David Petraeus to promote a US supplied and trained proxy army in Syria
Given Petraeus lack of success training Iraqi and Afghan soldiers, he is a curious choice. Clinton describes the White House meetings where she and Petraeus, with the backing of Secretary of Defense Panetta, campaigned for a more direct and aggressive US role:
Petraeus presented the plan to the President. He listened carefully and had a lot of questions …. The president asked for examples of instances when the United States had backed an insurgency that could be considered a success….Petraeus and I argued there was a big difference between Qatar and Saudi Arabia dumping weapons into the country and the United States responsibly training and equipping a non-extremist rebel force. (p 463)
Clinton describes her disappointment when the proposal was not accepted. Obama deferred the decision at that time. As we now know, a similar plan for the US to “vet” and train “moderate rebels” at a starting cost of $500 million was later approved and initiated. The first batch of rebels was quickly routed and captured. In the past couple weeks a second batch of “moderate rebels” defected to Nusra/Al Qaeda as soon as they crossed the border.
As for the argument that things have deteriorated because the US did not get more involved earlier, the August 2012 DIA report is clear: “Internally events are taking a clear sectarian direction. The Salafist, the Muslim Brotherhood and AQI are the major forces driving the insurgency in Syria.”
Clinton ignores contradictory evidence around the chemical weapons incident of August 2013
Although she resigned as Secretary of State after the first Obama term office, she was still consulted. Without citing any evidence, she assumes the Assad government was responsible for the CW attack. On the contrary, many of the best American investigative journalists (Seymour Hersh, Robert Parry), retired CIA analyst Ray McGovern and a dedicated website reached the opposite conclusion. But Clinton sees no problem in a quick determination of guilt. Instead she expresses alarm at the prospect that Congress could vote against authorizing use of force. She describes the planned attack on Syria as a “limited strike to uphold a crucial global norm” and expresses fear that Congress might object “which would deal a serious blow to U.S. prestige and credibility.” (p 466) The thought of Clinton in the White House making life and death decisions, using this kind of value system, is troubling. What kind of credibility and prestige is deserved by a country which attacks another country, killing many, on the basis of questionable or false accusations?
Clinton is blind to the solution
In closing her book, Clinton says:
It is impossible to watch the suffering in Syria, including as a private citizen, and not ask what more could have been done…. Wicked problems can’t paralyze us. We need to urgently seek solutions, however hard they are to find. (p 470)
The solution is not impossible. What is wicked is the devastation of Syria by some of the wealthiest and most powerful countries in the world. What is wicked is the justification of this on a “humanitarian” pretense. The solution simply requires countries such as the USA and allies to stop their illegal and destructive efforts to overthrow any government they don’t like. It’s up to the people of Syria to determine their government. It’s time for the United Nations and genuine humanitarian organizations to demand the end of this war so that Syrians can start reconciliation and rebuilding.
Rick Sterling is a retired engineer and co-founder of Syria Solidarity Movement. He can be emailed at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
In broad daylight on May 2, 1997, 50 armed men set upon a television station in Istanbul with gunfire. The attackers unleashed a fusillade of bullets and shouted slogans supporting Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Tansu Ciller. The gunmen were outraged over the station’s broadcast of a TV report critical of Ciller, a close U.S. ally who had come under criticism for stonewalling investigations into collusion between state security forces and Turkish criminal elements.
Miraculously, no one was injured in the attack, but the headquarters of Independent Flash TV were left pock-marked with bullet-holes and smashed windows. The gunfire also sent an unmistakable message to Turkish journalists and legislators: don’t challenge Ciller and other high-level Turkish officials when they cover up state secrets.
Former Turkish Prime Minister Tansu Ciller
For several months, Turkey had been awash in dramatic disclosures connecting high Turkish officials to the right-wing Grey Wolves, the terrorist band which has preyed on the region for years. In 1981, a terrorist from the Grey Wolves attempted to assassinate Pope John Paul II in Vatican City.
But at the center of the mushrooming Turkish scandal is whether Turkey, a strategically placed NATO country, allowed mafiosi and right-wing extremists to operate death squads and to smuggle drugs with impunity. A Turkish parliamentary commission is investigating these new charges.
The rupture of state secrets in Turkey also could release clues to other major Cold War mysteries. Besides the attempted papal assassination, the Turkish disclosures could shed light on the collapse of the Vatican bank in 1982 and the operation of a clandestine pipeline that pumped sophisticated military hardware into the Middle East — apparently from NATO stockpiles in Europe — in exchange for heroin sold by the Mafia in the United States.
The official Turkish inquiry was triggered by what could have been the opening scene of a spy novel: a dramatic car crash on a remote highway near the village of Susurluk, 100 miles southwest of Istanbul. On Nov. 3, 1996, three people were crushed to death when their speeding black Mercedes hit a tractor.
The crash killed Husseyin Kocadag, a top police official who commanded Turkish counter-insurgency units. But it was Kocadag’s company that stunned the nation. The two other dead were Abdullah Catli, a convicted fugitive who was wanted for drug trafficking and murder, and Catli’s girlfriend, Gonca Us, a Turkish beauty queen turned mafia hit-woman.
A fourth occupant, who survived the crash, was Kurdish warlord Sedat Bucak, whose militia had been armed and financed by the Turkish government to fight Kurdish separatists. At first, Turkish officials claimed that the police were transporting two captured criminals.
But evidence seized at the crash site indicated that Abdullah Catli, the fugitive gangster, had been given special diplomatic credentials by Turkish authorities. Catli was carrying a government-approved weapons permit and six ID cards, each with a different name. Catli also possessed several handguns, silencers and a cache of narcotics, not the picture of a subdued criminal.
When it became obvious that Catli was a police collaborator, not a captive, the Turkish Interior Minister resigned. Several high-ranking law enforcement officers, including Istanbul’s police chief, were suspended. But the red-hot scandal soon threatened to jump that bureaucratic firebreak and endanger the careers of other senior government officials.
Grey Wolves Terror
The news of Catli’s secret police ties were all the more scandalous given his well-known role as a key leader of the Grey Wolves, a neo-fascist terrorist group that has stalked Turkey since the late 1960s.
A young tough who wore black leather pants and looked like Turkey’s answer to Elvis Presley, Catli graduated from street gang violence to become a brutal enforcer for the Grey Wolves. He rose quickly within their ranks, emerging as second-in-command in 1978. That year, Turkish police linked him to the murder of seven trade-union activists and Catli went underground.
Three years later, the Grey Wolves gained international notoriety when Mehmet Ali Agca, one of Catli’s closest collaborators, shot and nearly killed Pope John Paul II in St. Peter’s Square on May 13, 1981. Catli was the leader of a fugitive terrorist cell that included Agca and a handful of other Turkish neo-fascists.
Testifying in September 1985 as a witness at the trial of three Bulgarians and four Turks charged with complicity in the papal shooting in Rome, Catli (who was not a defendant) disclosed that he gave Agca the pistol that wounded the pontiff. Catli had previously helped Agca escape from a Turkish jail, where Agca was serving time for killing a national newspaper editor.
In addition to harboring Agca, Catli supplied him with fake IDs and directed Agca’s movements in West Germany, Switzerland, and Austria for several months prior to the papal attack. Catli enjoyed close links to Turkish drug mafiosi, too. His Grey Wolves henchmen worked as couriers for the Turkish mob boss Abuzer Ugurlu.
At Ugurlu’s behest, Catli’s thugs criss-crossed the infamous smugglers’ route passing through Bulgaria. Those routes were the ones favored by smugglers who reportedly carried NATO military equipment to the Middle East and returned with loads of heroin. Judge Carlo Palermo, an Italian magistrate based in Trento, discovered these smuggling operations while investigating arms-and-drug trafficking from Eastern Europe to Sicily.
Palermo disclosed that large quantities of sophisticated NATO weaponry — including machine guns, Leopard tanks and U.S.-built Cobra assault helicopters — were smuggled from Western Europe to countries in the Middle East during the 1970s and early 1980s. According to Palermo’s investigation, the weapon delivers were often made in exchange for consignments of heroin that filtered back, courtesy of the Grey Wolves and other smugglers, through Bulgaria to northern Italy.
There, the drugs were received by Mafia middlemen and transported to North America. Turkish morphine base supplied much of the Sicilian-run “Pizza connection,” which flooded the U.S. and Europe with high-grade heroin for several years.
[While it is still not clear how the NATO supplies entered the pipeline, other investigations have provided some clues. Witnesses in the October Surprise inquiry into an alleged Republican-Iranian hostage deal in 1980 claimed that they were allowed to select weapons from NATO stockpiles in Europe for shipment to Iran. [Iranian arms dealer Houshang Lavi claimed that he selected spare parts for Hawk anti-aircraft batteries from NATO bases along the Belgian-German border. Another witness, American arms broker William Herrmann, corroborated Lavi’s account of NATO supplies going to Iran. [Even former NATO commander Alexander Haig confirmed that NATO supplies could have gone to Iran in the early 1980s while he was secretary of state. “It wouldn’t be preposterous if a nation, Germany, for example, decided to let some of their NATO stockpiles be diverted to Iran,” Haig said in an interview. For more details, see Robert Parry’s Trick or Treason. ]A Vatican Mystery
Italian magistrates described the network they had uncovered as the “world’s biggest illegal arms trafficking organization.” They linked it to Middle Eastern drug empires and to prestigious banking circles in Italy and Europe.
At the center of this operation, it appeared, was an obscure import-export firm in Milan called Stibam International Transport. The head of Stibam, a Syrian businessman named Henri Arsan, also functioned as an informant for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, according to several Italian news outlets.
With satellite offices in New York, London, Zurich, and Sofia, Bulgaria, Stibam officials recycled their profits through Banco Ambrosiano, Italy’s largest private bank which had close ties to the Vatican until its sensational collapse in 1982. The collapse of Banco Ambrosiano came on the heels of the still unsolved death of its furtive president, Roberto Calvi, whose body was found hanging underneath Blackfriar’s Bridge in London in June 1982.
While running Ambrosiano, Calvi, nicknamed “God’s banker,” served as advisor to the Vatican’s extensive fiscal portfolio. At the same time in the mid- and late 1970s, Calvi’s bank handled most of Stibam’s foreign currency transactions and owned the building that housed Stibam’s Milanese headquarters.
In effect, the Vatican Bank — by virtue of its interlocking relationship with Banco Ambrosiano — was fronting for a gigantic contraband operation that specialized in guns and heroin. The bristling contraband operation that traversed Bulgaria was a magnet for secret service agents on both sides of the Cold War divide.
Crucial, in this regard, was the role of Kintex, a Sofia-based, state-controlled import-export firm that worked in tandem with Stibam and figured prominently in the arms trade. Kintex was riddled with Bulgarian and Soviet spies — a fact which encouraged speculation that the KGB and its Bulgarian proxies were behind the plot against the pope.
But Western intelligence also had its hooks into the Bulgarian smuggling scene, as evidenced by the CIA’s use of Kintex to channel weapons to the Nicaraguan Contra rebels in the early 1980s. The Reagan administration jumped on the papal assassination attempt as a propaganda opportunity, rather than helping to unravel the larger mystery.
Although the CIA’s link to the arms-for-drugs traffic in Bulgaria was widely known in espionage circles, hard-line U.S. and Western European officials promoted instead a bogus conspiracy theory that blamed the papal shooting on a communist plot.
The so-called “Bulgarian connection” became one of the more effective disinformation schemes hatched during the Reagan era. It reinforced the notion of the Soviet Union as an evil empire. But the apparent hoax also diverted attention from extensive — and potentially embarrassing — ties between U.S. intelligence and the Turkey’s narco-trafficking ultra-right.
Fabrication of the conspiracy theory might have even involved suborning perjury. During his September 1985 court testimony in Rome, Catli asserted that he had been approached by the West German BND spy organization, which allegedly promised him a large sum of money if he implicated the Bulgarian secret service and the KGB in the attempt on the pope’s life.
Five years later, ex-CIA analyst Melvin A. Goodman disclosed that his colleagues, under pressure from CIA higher-ups, skewed their reports to try to lend credence to the contention that the Soviets were involved. “The CIA had no evidence linking the KGB to the plot,” Goodman told the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Friends of the Wolves
Duane “Dewey” Clarridge, the CIA station chief in Rome at the time of the papal shooting, had previously been posted in Ankara. Clarridge was the CIA’s man-on-the-spot in Turkey in the 1970s when armed bands of Grey Wolves unleashed a wave of bomb attacks and shootings that killed thousands of people, including public officials, journalists, students, lawyers, labor organizers, social democrats, left-wing activists and ethnic Kurds. [In his 1997 memoirs, A Spy for All Seasons, Clarridge makes no reference to the Turkish unrest or to the pope shooting.]
During those violent 1970s, the Grey Wolves operated with the encouragement and protection of the Counter-Guerrilla Organization, a section of the Turkish Army’s Special Warfare Department. Headquartered in the U.S. Military Aid Mission building in Ankara, the Special Warfare Department received funds and training from U.S. advisors to create “stay behind” squads comprised of civilian irregulars.
They were supposed to go underground and engage in acts of sabotage if the Soviets invaded. Similar Cold War paramilitary units were established in every NATO member state, covering all non-Communist Europe like a spider web that would entangle Soviet invaders. But instead of preparing for foreign enemies, U.S.-sponsored stay-behind operatives in Turkey and several European countries used their skills to attack domestic opponents and foment violent disorders.
Some of those attacks were intended to spark right-wing military coups. In the late 1970s, former military prosecutor and Turkish Supreme Court Justice Emin Deger documented collaboration between the Grey Wolves and the government’s counter-guerrilla forces as well as the close ties of the latter to the CIA.
Turkey’s Counter-Guerrilla Organization handed out weapons to the Grey Wolves and other right-wing terrorist groups. These shadowy operations mainly engaged in the surveillance, persecution and torture of Turkish leftists, according to retired army commander Talat Turhan, the author of three books on counter-guerrilla activities in Turkey.
But the extremists launched one wave of political violence which provoked a 1980 coup by state security forces that deposed Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit. The Turkish security forces cited the need to restore order which had been shattered by rightist terrorist groups secretly sponsored by those same state security forces.
Cold War Roots
Since the earliest days of the Cold War, Turkey’s strategic importance derived from its geographic position as the West’s easternmost bulwark against Soviet communism. In an effort to weaken the Soviet state, the CIA also used pan-Turkish militants to incite anti-Soviet passions among Muslim Turkish minorities inside the Soviet Union, a strategy that strengthened ties between U.S. intelligence and Turkey’s ultra-nationalists.
Though many of Turkish ultra-nationalists were anti-Western as well as anti-Soviet, the Cold War realpolitik compelled them to support a discrete alliance with NATO and U.S. intelligence. Among the Turkish extremists collaborating in this anti-Soviet strategy were the National Action Party and its paramilitary youth group, the Grey Wolves.
Led by Colonel Alpaslan Turkes, the National Action Party espoused a fanatical pan-Turkish ideology that called for reclaiming large sections of the Soviet Union under the flag of a reborn Turkish empire. Turkes and his revanchist cohorts had been enthusiastic supporters of Hitler during World War II.
“The Turkish race above all others” was their Nazi-like credo. In a similar vein, Grey Wolf literature warned of a vast Jewish-Masonic-Communist conspiracy and its newspapers carried ads for Turkish translations of Nazi texts.
The pan-Turkish dream and its anti-Soviet component also fueled ties between the Grey Wolves and the Anti-Bolshevik Bloc of Nations (ABN), a CIA-backed coalition led by erstwhile fascist collaborators from East Europe.
Ruzi Nazar, a leading figure in the Munich-based ABN, had a long-standing relationship with the CIA and the Turkish ultra-nationalists. In the 1950s and 1960s, Nazar was employed by Radio Free Europe, a CIA-founded propaganda effort.
When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, the shifting geopolitical terrain created new opportunities — political and financial — for Colonel Turkes and his pan-Turkish crusaders. After serving a truncated prison term in the 1980s for his role in masterminding the political violence that convulsed Turkey, Turkes and several of his pan-Turkish colleagues were permitted to resume their political activities.
In 1992, the colonel visited his long lost Turkish brothers in newly independent Azerbaijan and received a hero’s welcome. In Baku, Turkes endorsed the candidacy of Grey Wolf sympathizer Abulfex Elcibey, who was subsequently elected president of Azerbaijan and appointed a close Grey Wolf ally as his Interior Minister.
The Gang Returns
By this time, Abdullah Catli was also back in circulation after several years of incarceration in France and Switzerland for heroin trafficking. In 1990, he escaped from a Swiss jail cell and rejoined the neo-fascist underground in Turkey.
Despite his documented links to the papal shooting and other terrorist attacks, Catli was pressed into service as a death squad organizer for the Turkish government’s dirty war against the Kurds who have long struggled for independence inside both Turkey and Iraq.
Turkish Army spokesmen acknowledged that the Counter-Guerrilla Organization (renamed the Special Forces Command in 1992) was involved in the escalating anti-Kurdish campaign. Turkey got a wink and a nod from Washington as a quid pro quo for cooperating with the United States during the Gulf War.
Turkish jets bombed Kurdish bases inside Iraqi territory. Meanwhile, on the ground, anti-Kurdish death squads were assassinating more than 1,000 non-combatants in southeastern Turkey. Hundreds of other Kurds “disappeared” while in police custody. Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and the European Parliament all condemned the Turkish security forces for these abuses.
Still, there was no hard evidence that Turkey’s security forces had recruited criminal elements as foot soldiers. That evidence surfaced only on Nov. 3, 1996, when Catli died in the fateful auto accident near Susurluk.
Strewn amidst the roadside wreckage was proof of what many journalists and human rights activists had long suspected — that successive Turkish governments had protected narco-traffickers, sheltered terrorists and sponsored gangs of killers to suppress Turkish dissidents and Kurdish rebels.
Colonel Turkes confirmed that Catli had performed clandestine duties for Turkey’s police and military. “On the basis of my state experience, I admit that Catli has been used by the state,” said Turkes. Catli had been cooperating “in the framework of a secret service working for the good of the state,” Turkes insisted.
U.S.-backed Turkish officials, including Tansu Ciller, Prime Minister from 1993-1996, also defended Catli after the car crash. “I don’t know whether he is guilty or not,” Ciller stated, “but we will always respectfully remember those who fire bullets or suffer wounds in the name of this country, this nation and this state.”
Eighty members of the Turkish parliament urged the federal prosecutor to file charges of criminal misconduct against Ciller, who was serving as Turkey’s Foreign Minister, as well as Deputy Prime Minister. They asserted that the Susurluk incident provided Turkey “with a historic opportunity to expose unsolved murders and the drugs and arms smuggling that have been going on in our country for years.”
The scandal momentarily reinvigorated the Turkish press, which unearthed revelations about criminals and police officials involved in the heroin trade. But journalists also were victims of death squads in those years. The violent attack on Independent Flash TV was a reminder. Prosecutors have faced pressure, too, from superiors who are not eager to delve into state secrets. [Ultimately, the corruption case against Ciller was covered up.]
Across the Atlantic in Washington, the U.S. government did not acknowledge any responsibility for the Turkish Frankenstein that U.S. Cold War strategy helped to create. When asked about the Susurluk affair, a State Department spokesperson said it was “an internal Turkish matter.” He declined further comment.
Russia, Iran, Iraq and Syria have agreed to establish a joint information center in Baghdad to coordinate their operations against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIL/ISIS) militants, according to sources.
“The main goal of the center will be gathering, processing and analyzing current information about the situation in the Middle East – primarily for fighting IS,” a military-diplomatic source told Russian news agencies on Saturday.
The information center in the Iraqi capital will be headed by an officer of one of the founding countries on a rotating basis. Rotation will take place every three months. According to the source, Iraq will run the center for the next three months.
Russia, Iran, Iraq and Syria may also use the information center to coordinate anti-IS combat plans, the source said, adding that the agreement is a milestone for uniting the region’s countries in the war on terrorism – primarily on Islamic State militants.
On Friday, the US TV-Channel Fox News reported the four countries were establishing a “coordination cell” in Baghdad, but Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for Vladimir Putin, denied this. “We have already said there are many reports which are not true,” he told news agencies.
Recent media reports indicate Russia is boosting its cooperation with Syria and other Middle East countries in the fight against terrorism.
Western media say Russia is sending warplanes and tanks to Syria and building a military base in Latakia, but Russian officials deny this, saying Moscow is continuing to supply Syria with weapons in accordance with bilateral contracts.
“Russia has never made a secret of military-technical cooperation with Syria. Our country has long been supplying weapons and military equipment to Syria under the existing bilateral contracts,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in a statement on September 9.
Syria hopes that Russia’s counter-terror policy will be more effective than the US-led anti-IS coalition.
“Moscow is acting within the framework of international law, respecting the sovereignty of our country and in coordination with Syria,” Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem told RT. “We do not hide anything under the table. We regard Russia as our friend and strategic ally which is honest in its actions.”
Russia has long insisted on the creation of an international anti-terrorist coalition, to coordinate the efforts with the Syrian Army in combating the jihadists on the ground.
2015 Proves to Be Record-Breaking Year for the Military’s Secret Military
You can find them in dusty, sunbaked badlands, moist tropical forests, and the salty spray of third-world littorals. Standing in judgement, buffeted by the rotor wash of a helicopter or sweltering beneath the relentless desert sun, they instruct, yell, and cajole as skinnier men playact under their watchful eyes. In many places, more than their particular brand of camouflage, better boots, and designer gear sets them apart. Their days are scented by stale sweat and gunpowder; their nights are spent in rustic locales or third-world bars.
These men — and they are mostly men — belong to an exclusive military fraternity that traces its heritage back to the birth of the nation. Typically, they’ve spent the better part of a decade as more conventional soldiers, sailors, marines, or airmen before making the cut. They’ve probably been deployed overseas four to 10 times. The officers are generally approaching their mid-thirties; the enlisted men, their late twenties. They’ve had more schooling than most in the military. They’re likely to be married with a couple of kids. And day after day, they carry out shadowy missions over much of the planet: sometimes covert raids, more often hush-hush training exercises from Chad to Uganda, Bahrain to Saudi Arabia, Albania to Romania, Bangladesh to Sri Lanka, Belize to Uruguay. They belong to the Special Operations forces (SOF), America’s most elite troops — Army Green Berets and Navy SEALs, among others — and odds are, if you throw a dart at a world map or stop a spinning globe with your index finger and don’t hit water, they’ve been there sometime in 2015.
The Wide World of Special Ops
This year, U.S. Special Operations forces have already deployed to 135 nations, according to Ken McGraw, a spokesman for Special Operations Command (SOCOM). That’s roughly 70% of the countries on the planet. Every day, in fact, America’s most elite troops are carrying out missions in 80 to 90 nations, practicing night raids or sometimes conducting them for real, engaging in sniper training or sometimes actually gunning down enemies from afar. As part of a global engagement strategy of endless hush-hush operations conducted on every continent but Antarctica, they have now eclipsed the number and range of special ops missions undertaken at the height of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In the waning days of the Bush administration, Special Operations forces (SOF) were reportedly deployed in only about 60 nations around the world. By 2010, according to the Washington Post, that number had swelled to 75. Three years later, it had jumped to 134 nations, “slipping” to 133 last year, before reaching a new record of 135 this summer. This 80% increase over the last five years is indicative of SOCOM’s exponential expansion which first shifted into high gear following the 9/11 attacks.
Special Operations Command’s funding, for example, has more than tripled from about $3 billion in 2001 to nearly $10 billion in 2014 “constant dollars,” according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO). And this doesn’t include funding from the various service branches, which SOCOM estimates at around another $8 billion annually, or other undisclosed sums that the GAO was unable to track. The average number of Special Operations forces deployed overseas has nearly tripled during these same years, while SOCOM more than doubled its personnel from about 33,000 in 2001 to nearly 70,000 now.
Each day, according to SOCOM commander General Joseph Votel, approximately 11,000 special operators are deployed or stationed outside the United States with many more on standby, ready to respond in the event of an overseas crisis. “I think a lot of our resources are focused in Iraq and in the Middle East, in Syria for right now. That’s really where our head has been,” Votel told the Aspen Security Forum in July. Still, he insisted his troops were not “doing anything on the ground in Syria” — even if they had carried out a night raid there a couple of months before and it was later revealed that they are involved in a covert campaign of drone strikes in that country.
“I think we are increasing our focus on Eastern Europe at this time,” he added. “At the same time we continue to provide some level of support on South America for Colombia and the other interests that we have down there. And then of course we’re engaged out in the Pacific with a lot of our partners, reassuring them and working those relationships and maintaining our presence out there.”
In reality, the average percentage of Special Operations forces deployed to the Greater Middle East has decreased in recent years. Back in 2006, 85% of special operators were deployed in support of Central Command or CENTCOM, the geographic combatant command (GCC) that oversees operations in the region. By last year, that number had dropped to 69%, according to GAO figures. Over that same span, Northern Command — devoted to homeland defense — held steady at 1%, European Command (EUCOM) doubled its percentage, from 3% to 6%, Pacific Command (PACOM) increased from 7% to 10%, and Southern Command, which overseas Central and South America as well as the Caribbean, inched up from 3% to 4%. The largest increase, however, was in a region conspicuously absent from Votel’s rundown of special ops deployments. In 2006, just 1% of the special operators deployed abroad were sent to Africa Command’s area of operations. Last year, it was 10%.
Globetrotting is SOCOM’s stock in trade and, not coincidentally, it’s divided into a collection of planet-girding “sub-unified commands”: the self-explanatory SOCAFRICA; SOCEUR, the European contingent; SOCCENT, the sub-unified command of CENTCOM; SOCKOR, which is devoted strictly to Korea; SOCPAC, which covers the rest of the Asia-Pacific region; SOCSOUTH, which conducts missions in Central America, South America, and the Caribbean; SOCNORTH, which is devoted to “homeland defense”; and the ever-itinerant Joint Special Operations Command or JSOC, a clandestine sub-command (formerly headed by Votel) made up of personnel from each service branch, including SEALs, Air Force special tactics airmen, and the Army’s Delta Force that specializes in tracking and killing suspected terrorists.
The elite of the elite in the special ops community, JSOC takes on covert, clandestine, and low-visibility operations in the hottest of hot spots. Some covert ops that have come to light in recent years include a host of Delta Force missions: among them, an operation in May in which members of the elite force killed an Islamic State commander known as Abu Sayyaf during a night raid in Syria; the 2014 release of long-time Taliban prisoner Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl; the capture of Ahmed Abu Khattala, a suspect in 2012 terror attacks in Benghazi, Libya; and the 2013 abduction of Anas al-Libi, an al-Qaeda militant, off a street in that same country. Similarly, Navy SEALs have, among other operations, carried out successful hostage rescue missions in Afghanistan and Somalia in 2012; a disastrous one in Yemen in 2014; a 2013 kidnap raid in Somalia that went awry; and — that same year — a failed evacuation mission in South Sudan in which three SEALs were wounded when their aircraft was hit by small arms fire.
SOCOM’s SOF Alphabet Soup
Most deployments have, however, been training missions designed to tutor proxies and forge stronger ties with allies. “Special Operations forces provide individual-level training, unit-level training, and formal classroom training,” explains SOCOM’s Ken McGraw. “Individual training can be in subjects like basic rifle marksmanship, land navigation, airborne operations, and first aid. They provide unit-level training in subjects like small unit tactics, counterterrorism operations and maritime operations. SOF can also provide formal classroom training in subjects like the military decision-making process or staff planning.”
From 2012 to 2014, for instance, Special Operations forces carried out 500 Joint Combined Exchange Training (JCET) missions in as many as 67 countries each year. JCETs are officially devoted to training U.S. forces, but they nonetheless serve as a key facet of SOCOM’s global engagement strategy. The missions “foster key military partnerships with foreign militaries, enhance partner-nations’ capability to provide for their own defense, and build interoperability between U.S. SOF and partner-nation forces,” according to SOCOM’s McGraw.
And JCETs are just a fraction of the story. SOCOM carries out many other multinational overseas training operations. According to data from the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller), for example, Special Operations forces conducted 75 training exercises in 30 countries in 2014. The numbers were projected to jump to 98 exercises in 34 countries by the end of this year.
“SOCOM places a premium on international partnerships and building their capacity. Today, SOCOM has persistent partnerships with about 60 countries through our Special Operations Forces Liaison Elements and Joint Planning and Advisory Teams,” said SOCOM’s Votel at a conference earlier this year, drawing attention to two of the many types of shadowy Special Ops entities that operate overseas. These SOFLEs and JPATs belong to a mind-bending alphabet soup of special ops entities operating around the globe, a jumble of opaque acronyms and stilted abbreviations masking a secret world of clandestine efforts often conducted in the shadows in impoverished lands ruled by problematic regimes. The proliferation of this bewildering SOCOM shorthand — SOJTFs and CJSOTFs, SOCCEs and SOLEs — mirrors the relentless expansion of the command, with its signature brand of military speak or milspeak proving as indecipherable to most Americans as its missions are secret from them.
Around the world, you can find Special Operations Joint Task Forces (SOJTFs), Combined Joint Special Operations Task Forces (CJSOTFs), and Joint Special Operations Task Forces (JSOTFs), Theater Special Operations Commands (TSOCs), as well as Special Operations Command and Control Elements (SOCCEs) and Special Operations Liaison Elements (SOLEs). And that list doesn’t even include Special Operations Command Forward (SOC FWD) elements — small teams which, according to the military, “shape and coordinate special operations forces security cooperation and engagement in support of theater special operations command, geographic combatant command, and country team goals and objectives.”
Special Operations Command will not divulge the locations or even a simple count of its SOC FWDs for “security reasons.” When asked how releasing only the number could imperil security, SOCOM’s Ken McGraw was typically opaque. “The information is classified,” he responded. “I am not the classification authority for that information so I do not know the specifics of why the information is classified.” Open source data suggests, however, that they are clustered in favored black ops stomping grounds, including SOC FWD Pakistan, SOC FWD Yemen, and SOC FWD Lebanon, as well as SOC FWD East Africa, SOC FWD Central Africa, and SOC FWD West Africa.
What’s clear is that SOCOM prefers to operate in the shadows while its personnel and missions expand globally to little notice or attention. “The key thing that SOCOM brings to the table is that we are — we think of ourselves — as a global force. We support the geographic combatant commanders, but we are not bound by the artificial boundaries that normally define the regional areas in which they operate. So what we try to do is we try to operate across those boundaries,” SOCOM’s Votel told the Aspen Security Forum.
In one particular blurring of boundaries, Special Operations liaison officers (SOLOs) are embedded in at least 14 key U.S. embassies to assist in advising the special forces of various allied nations. Already operating in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, El Salvador, France, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Kenya, Poland, Peru, Turkey, and the United Kingdom, the SOLO program is poised, according to Votel, to expand to 40 countries by 2019. The command, and especially JSOC, has also forged close ties with the Central Intelligence Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the National Security Agency, among other outfits, through the use of liaison officers and Special Operations Support Teams (SOSTs).
“In today’s environment, our effectiveness is directly tied to our ability to operate with domestic and international partners. We, as a joint force, must continue to institutionalize interoperability, integration, and interdependence between conventional forces and special operations forces through doctrine, training, and operational deployments,” Votel told the Senate Armed Services Committee this spring. “From working with indigenous forces and local governments to improve local security, to high-risk counterterrorism operations — SOF are in vital roles performing essential tasks.”
SOCOM will not name the 135 countries in which America’s most elite forces were deployed this year, let alone disclose the nature of those operations. Most were, undoubtedly, training efforts. Documents obtained from the Pentagon via the Freedom of Information Act outlining Joint Combined Exchange Training in 2013 offer an indication of what Special Operations forces do on a daily basis and also what skills are deemed necessary for their real-world missions: combat marksmanship, patrolling, weapons training, small unit tactics, special operations in urban terrain, close quarters combat, advanced marksmanship, sniper employment, long-range shooting, deliberate attack, and heavy weapons employment, in addition to combat casualty care, human rights awareness, land navigation, and mission planning, among others.
From Joint Special Operations Task Force-Juniper Shield, which operates in Africa’s Trans-Sahara region, and Special Operations Command and Control Element-Horn of Africa, to Army Special Operations Forces Liaison Element-Korea and Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force-Arabian Peninsula, the global growth of SOF missions has been breathtaking. SEALs or Green Berets, Delta Force operators or Air Commandos, they are constantly taking on what Votel likes to call the “nation’s most complex, demanding, and high-risk challenges.”
These forces carry out operations almost entirely unknown to the American taxpayers who fund them, operations conducted far from the scrutiny of the media or meaningful outside oversight of any kind. Everyday, in around 80 or more countries that Special Operations Command will not name, they undertake missions the command refuses to talk about. They exist in a secret world of obtuse acronyms and shadowy efforts, of mystery missions kept secret from the American public, not to mention most of the citizens of the 135 nations where they’ve been deployed this year.
This summer, when Votel commented that more special ops troops are deployed to more locations and are conducting more operations than at the height of the Afghan and Iraq wars, he drew attention to two conflicts in which those forces played major roles that have not turned out well for the United States. Consider that symbolic of what the bulking up of his command has meant in these years.
“Ultimately, the best indicator of our success will be the success of the [geographic combatant commands],” says the special ops chief, but with U.S. setbacks in Africa Command’s area of operations from Mali and Nigeria to Burkina Faso and Cameroon; in Central Command’s bailiwick from Iraq and Afghanistan to Yemen and Syria; in the PACOM region vis-à-vis China; and perhaps even in the EUCOM area of operations due to Russia, it’s far from clear what successes can be attributed to the ever-expanding secret operations of America’s secret military. The special ops commander seems resigned to the very real limitations of what his secretive but much-ballyhooed, highly-trained, well-funded, heavily-armed operators can do.
“We can buy space, we can buy time,” says Votel, stressing that SOCOM can “play a very, very key role” in countering “violent extremism,” but only up to a point — and that point seems to fall strikingly short of anything resembling victory or even significant foreign policy success. “Ultimately, you know, problems like we see in Iraq and Syria,” he says, “aren’t going to be resolved by us.”
Nick Turse is the author of Tomorrow’s Battlefield: U.S. Proxy Wars and Secret Ops in Africa.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has thrown U.S. policymakers what amounts to a lifeline to pull them out of the quicksand that is the Syrian war, but Official Washington’s neocons and the mainstream U.S. news media are growling about Putin’s audacity and challenging his motives.
For instance, The New York Times’ lead editorial on Monday accused Putin of “dangerously building up Russia’s military presence” in Syria, even though Putin’s stated goal is to help crush the Sunni jihadists in the Islamic State and other extremist movements.
Instead, the Times harrumphs about Putin using his upcoming speech to the United Nations General Assembly “to make the case for an international coalition against the Islamic State, apparently ignoring the one already being led by the United States.”
The Times then reprises the bizarre neocon argument that the best way to solve the threat from the Islamic State, Al Qaeda and other jihadist forces is to eliminate Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his military who have been the principal obstacles to an outright victory by the Sunni terrorist groups.
The dreamy Times/neocon prescription continues to be that “regime change” in Damascus would finally lead to the emergence of the mythical “moderate” rebels who would somehow prevail over the far more numerous and far better armed extremists. This perspective ignores the fact that after a $500 million training project for these “moderates,” the U.S. military says four or five fighters are now on the battlefield inside Syria. In other words, the members of this U.S.-trained brigade can be counted on the fingers of one hand.
But rather than rethink Official Washington’s goofy “group think” on Syria – or provide readers a fuller history of the Syrian conflict – the Times moves on to blame Putin for the mess.
“No one should be fooled about Russia’s culpability in Syria’s agony,” the Times writes. “Mr. Putin could have helped prevent the fighting that has killed more than 250,000 Syrians and displaced millions more, had he worked with other major powers in 2011 to keep Mr. Assad from waging war on his people following peaceful anti-government protests. … Mr. Assad would probably be gone without the weapons aid and other assistance from Russia and Iran.”
This “group think” ignores the early role of Sunni extremists in killing police and soldiers and thus provoking the harsh retaliation that followed. But the Syrian narrative, according to The New York Times, is that the “white-hat” protesters were simply set upon by the “black-hat” government.
The Times’ simplistic story-line fits neatly with what the influential neoconservatives want the West to believe, since the neocons have had Syria on their “regime change” list, alongside Iraq and Iran, since the list was compiled as part of Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu’s 1996 political campaign. The Times’ narrative also leaves out the crucial role of Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other U.S. “allies” in supporting Al Qaeda and its Islamic State spinoff.
Bush’s Unaccounted-for Cash
Further complicating Official Washington’s let’s-blame-Putin Syrian narrative is the unintended role of President George W. Bush and the U.S. military in laying the groundwork for these brutal Sunni extremist movements through the invasion of Iraq last decade. After all, it was only in reaction to the U.S. military presence that “Al Qaeda in Iraq” took root in Iraqi and then Syrian territory.
Not only did the ouster and execution of Sunni leader Saddam Hussein alienate the region’s Sunnis, but Bush’s desperation to avert an outright military defeat in Iraq during his second term led him to authorize the payment of billions of dollars to Sunni fighters to get them to stop shooting at American soldiers and to give Bush time to negotiate a U.S. troop withdrawal.
Beginning in 2006, those U.S. payments to Sunni fighters to get them to suspend their resistance were central to what was then called the “Sunni Awakening.” Though the program preceded Bush’s “surge” of troops in 2007, the bought-and-paid-for truce became central to what Official Washington then hailed as the “successful surge” or “victory at last.”
Besides the billions of dollars paid out in pallets of U.S. cash to Sunni insurgents, Bush’s “surge” cost the lives of another 1,000 U.S. soldiers and killed a countless number of Iraqis, many just going about their daily lives until they were blown apart by powerful American munitions. [See, for example, the “Collateral Murder” video leaked by Pvt. Bradley/Chelsea Manning]
But what the U.S. intelligence community is only now assessing is the collateral damage caused by the bribes that the Bush administration paid to Sunni insurgents. Some of the cash appears to have become seed money for the transformation of “Al Qaeda in Iraq” into the Islamic State as Sunnis, who continued to be disenfranchised by Iraq’s Shiite-dominated government, expanded their sectarian war into Syria.
Besides the Iraqi Sunnis, Syria’s secular government, with Assad and other key leaders from the Alawite branch of Shiite Islam, also was set upon by home-grown Sunni extremists and foreign jihadists, some of whom joined the Islamic State but mostly coalesced around Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front and other radical forces. Though the Islamic State had originated as “Al Qaeda in Iraq” (or AQI), it evolved into an even more bloodthirsty force and, in Syria, split off from Al Qaeda central.
U.S. intelligence followed many of these developments in real time. According to a Defense Intelligence Agency report from August 2012, “AQI supported the Syrian opposition from the beginning, both ideologically and through the media. … AQI declared its opposition of Assad’s government because it considered it a sectarian regime targeting Sunnis.”
In other words, Assad’s early complaint about “terrorists” having infiltrated the opposition had a basis in fact. Early in the disorders in 2011, there were cases of armed elements killing police and soldiers. Later, there were terrorist bombings targeting senior Syrian government officials, including a July 18, 2012 explosion – deemed a suicide bombing by government officials – that killed Syrian Defense Minister General Dawoud Rajiha and Assef Shawkat, the deputy defense minister and Assad’s brother-in-law.
By then, it had become clear that Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and other Sunni-ruled countries were funneling money and other help to jihadist rebels seeking to oust Assad’s regime, which was considered a protector of Christians, Shiites, Alawites and other minorities fearing persecution if Sunni extremists prevailed.
As the 2012 DIA report noted about Syria, “internally, events are taking a clear sectarian direction. … The salafist, the Muslim Brotherhood, and AQI are the major forces driving the insurgency in Syria. … The West, Gulf countries, and Turkey support the opposition; while Russia, China, and Iran support the regime.”
The DIA analysts already understood the risks that AQI represented both to Syria and Iraq. The report included a stark warning about the expansion of AQI, which was changing into the Islamic State or what the DIA referred to as ISI. The brutal armed movement was seeing its ranks swelled by the arrival of global jihadists rallying to the black banner of Sunni militancy, intolerant of both Westerners and “heretics” from Shiite and other non-Sunni branches of Islam.
As this movement strengthened it risked spilling back into Iraq. The DIA wrote: “This creates the ideal atmosphere for AQI to return to its old pockets in Mosul and Ramadi [in Iraq], and will provide a renewed momentum under the presumption of unifying the jihad among Sunni Iraq and Syria, and the rest of the Sunnis in the Arab world against what it considers one enemy, the dissenters [apparently a reference to Shiite and other non-Sunni forms of Islam]. ISI could also declare an Islamic State through its union with other terrorist organizations in Iraq and Syria, which will create grave danger in regards to unifying Iraq and the protection of its territory.”
Facing this growing Sunni terrorist threat — which indeed did spill back into Iraq — the idea that the CIA or the U.S. military could effectively arm and train a “moderate” rebel force to somehow compete with the Islamists was already delusional, yet that was the “group think” among the Important People of Official Washington, simply organize a “moderate” army to oust Assad and everything would turn out just great.
On Oct. 2, 2014, Vice President Joe Biden let more of the cat out of the bag when he told an audience at Harvard’s Kennedy School: “our allies in the region were our largest problem in Syria … the Saudis, the emirates, etc., what were they doing? They were so determined to take down Assad and essentially have a proxy Sunni-Shia war, what did they do? They poured hundreds of millions of dollars and tens of thousands of tons of military weapons into anyone who would fight against Assad, except the people who were being supplied were Al Nusra and Al Qaeda and the extremist elements of jihadis coming from other parts of the world.” [Quote at 53:20 of clip.]
In other words, much of the U.S.-led anti-Islamic State coalition actually has been involved in financing and arming many of the same jihadists that the coalition is now supposedly fighting. If you take into account the lost billions of dollars that the Bush administration dumped on Sunni fighters starting in 2006, you could argue that the U.S.-led coalition bears primary responsibility for creating the problem that it is now confronting.
Biden made a similar point at least in reference to the Persian Gulf states: “Now all of a sudden, I don’t want to be too facetious, but they have seen the lord. … Saudi Arabia has stopped funding. Saudi Arabia is allowing training [of anti-Islamic State fighters] on its soil … the Qataris have cut off their support for the most extreme elements of terrorist organizations, and the Turks … [are] trying to seal their border.”
But there remain many doubts about the commitment of these Sunni governments to the cause of fighting the Islamic State and even more doubts about whether that commitment extends to Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front and other jihadist forces. Some neocons have even advocated backing Al Qaeda as the lesser evil both vis a vis the Islamic State and the Assad regime.
Yet, the Times editorial on Monday blamed Putin for a big chunk of the Syrian mess because Russia has dared support the internationally recognized Syrian government in the face of vicious foreign-supported terrorism. The Times casts no blame on the United States or its allies for the Syrian horror.
The Times also hurled personal insults at Putin as part of its equally one-sided narrative of the Ukraine crisis, which the editorial writers have summarized as simply a case of “Russian aggression” or a “Russian invasion” – ignoring the behind-the-scenes role of neocon Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland in orchestrating the violent overthrow of Ukraine’s elected President Viktor Yanukovych in February 2014.
In Monday’s editorial, the Times reported that President Barack Obama “considers Mr. Putin a thug,” though it was President Obama who boasted just last month, “I’ve ordered military action in seven countries,” another inconvenient fact that the Times discreetly leaves out. In other words, who’s the “thug”?
Yet, despite all its huffing and puffing and calling Putin names, the Times ultimately concludes that Obama should test out the lifeline that Putin has tossed to Obama’s Syrian policy which – with all its thrashing and arm waving – is rapidly disappearing into the quicksand. The editorial concluded:
“Secretary of State John Kerry, speaking in London on Friday, made it clear that America would be looking for ‘common ground’ in Syria, which could mean keeping Mr. Assad in power temporarily during a transition. The Russians should accept that Mr. Assad must go within a specific time frame, say six months. The objective is a transition government that includes elements of the Assad regime and the opposition. Iran should be part of any deal.
“America should be aware that Mr. Putin’s motivations are decidedly mixed and that he may not care nearly as much about joining the fight against the Islamic State as propping up his old ally. But with that in mind there is no reason not to test him.”
Kerry’s apparent willingness to work with the Russians – a position that I’m told Obama shares – is at least a sign that some sanity exists inside the State Department, which initially mounted an absurd and futile attempt to organize an aerial blockade to prevent Russia from flying in any assistance to Syria.
If successful, that scheme, emanating from Nuland’s European division, could have collapsed the Syrian regime and opened the gates of Damascus to the Islamic State and/or Al Qaeda. So obsessed are the neocons to achieve their long-held goal of “regime change” in Syria that they would run the risk of turning Syria over to the Islamic State head-choppers and Al Qaeda’s terrorism plotters.
However, after the requisite snorting and pawing of hooves, it appears that the cooler heads in the Obama administration may have finally asserted themselves – and perhaps at The New York Times as well.
Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).
GOP Candidates Show How It’s Done
The media are anointing former Hewlett-Packard Chief Executive Carly Fiorina as the winner of last Wednesday’s second Republican presidential-aspirant debate. They are saying that she was the best prepared and most convincing speaker, and, indeed, maybe she was. But what is being largely ignored is the actual content of the so-called debate, which was supposed to be focused on foreign policy. Presuming that all the potential candidates had been assiduously primed on the major issues by their advisers, what might have been informed opinion was instead pathetically ignorant and, more than that, dangerous.
Note for example what Fiorina had to say about her policy towards Russia: “Having met Vladimir Putin, I wouldn’t talk to him at all. We’ve talked way too much to him. What I would do, immediately, is begin rebuilding the Sixth Fleet, I would begin rebuilding the missile defense program in Poland. I would conduct regular, aggressive military exercises in the Baltic States. I’d probably send a few thousand more troops into Germany. Vladimir Putin would get the message.”
Yes, Carly would make sure that Putin would get the message that any possible cooperation with the United States would be a non-starter, even in places and situations where there might be common interests. Carly as president promises to take steps that directly threaten Russia on its own doorstep and would lead to a return to the Cold War. And possibly worse than that. Per Fiorina, it would also mean a new budget busting arms race to show how strong we are.
And Fiorina was not winging it alone. Senator Marco Rubio had a fantasy vision that saw him personally flying around the world directly confronting the bad guys. He pledged that “It [Air Force One] would also fly to China, not just to meet with our enemies, not just to meet with those adversaries of ours that are there, but also to meet with those that aspire to freedom and liberty within China. I would even invite them to my inauguration. We would also fly into Moscow and into Russia. And not just meet with the leaders of Russia, but also meet with those who aspire to freedom and liberty in Russia.”
How Rubio would obtain use of the presidential plane before his inauguration and arrange the logistics of flying into capitals of countries that he has labeled enemies to meet with dissidents was not quite clear. And the whole concept of cultivating opposition groups has a vaguely Democratic White House smell to it, a heavy dose of democracy promotion that leads to responsibility to protect, regime change and nation building. I thought Republicans had gone off the boil on that kind of stuff, but Rubio just might be getting bad advice from his posse of neocon advisers which includes Robert Kagan, Eric Edelman and Elliott Abrams.
But the evening’s biggest brouhaha concerned someone who was not even on the stage, GOP gadfly Ann Coulter, who responded to references to Israel by tweeting to her 600,000 fans “How many (expletive) Jews do these people think there are in the United States?” Coulter may have had a point in that American Jews are a small minority of the population who vote heavily Democratic in any event, but she would have been much more accurate if she had stated “Jew” rather than “Jews” as the comments by the potential candidates were really aimed at Sheldon Adelson, casino magnate of Law Vegas, who can literally pay for the entire GOP presidential campaign if he chooses to do so. For Adelson and his Democratic counterpart Haim Saban America’s presidential election is all about Israel.
Coulter understands that talking nice about Israel appeals to evangelical Christians, who many believe to be a sine qua non for any prospective GOP candidate who actually hopes to get nominated. But piqued by the Coulter outburst and out of curiosity I downloaded a transcript of the debate and went through it for any mention of Israel or Jews or even Benjamin Netanyahu. Contrary to Coulter’s assertion, Israel was only mentioned eleven times in the three hour debate and was not cited by Rand Paul, Ben Carson, Scott Walker or Donald Trump. Jews were not discussed at all and Netanyahu only named once, by Fiorina.
But the infrequency of the commentary on Israel should not be interpreted as a suggestion that the discussion of politics as related to the Middle East was any less Israel-centric or even somehow restrained or rational. Indeed, the potential candidates demonstrated an inability to connect with reality and scrupulously avoided basing U.S. policies overseas on actual interests and available resources.
This is Carly Fiorina’s plan for the Middle East and for pressuring reluctant allies in her own words: “You have not heard a plan about Iran from any politician up here, here is my plan. On day one in the Oval Office, I will make two phone calls, the first to my good friend to Bibi Netanyahu to reassure him we will stand with the state of Israel. The second, to the supreme leader, to tell him that unless and until he opens every military and every nuclear facility to real anytime, anywhere inspections by our people, not his, we, the United States of America, will make it as difficult as possible and move money around the global financial system. We can do that, we don’t need anyone’s cooperation to do it. And every ally and every adversary we have in this world will know that the United States in America is back in the leadership business, which is how we must stand with our allies.”
Fiorina does not seem to be aware that by giving her “good friend” Benjamin Netanyahu the ability to draw the United States into a war that he chooses to start she is outsourcing our sovereignty. But perhaps that doesn’t bother her just as she doesn’t seem concerned that baiting Iran will pit the U.S. against the entire world, to include nearly all of America’s allies.
Jeb Bush also focused on the centrality of Israel to contain Iran as part of his foreign policy vision, stating that “the first thing that we need to do is to establish our commitment to Israel which has been altered by this administration. And, make sure that they have the most sophisticated weapons to send a signal to Iran that we have Israel’s back. If we do that, it’s going to create a healthier deterrent effect than anything else I can think of.”
No Jeb, it will do the opposite. It will force Iran to actually develop a nuclear weapon to defend itself. And going far beyond Bush, Mike Huckabee presented a broader nightmarish and largely fantasized view of a clash of civilizations, stating “This is really about the survival of Western civilization. This is not just a little conflict with a Middle Eastern country that we’ve just now given over $100 billion to, the equivalent in U.S. terms is $5 trillion. This threatens Israel immediately, this threatens the entire Middle East, but it threatens the United States of America. And we can’t treat a nuclear Iranian government as if it is just some government that would like to have power. This is a government for 36 years has killed Americans, they kidnapped Americans, they have maimed Americans. They have sponsored terrorist groups, Hamas and Hezbollah, and they threaten the very essence of Western civilization. At the end of my presidency I would like to believe that the world would be a safe place, and there wouldn’t be the threats. Not only to the U.S., but to Israel and our allies, because we would have the most incredible well-trained, well-equipped, well- prepared military in the history of mankind. And they would know that the commander-in-chief would never send them to a mission without all the resources necessary, but people wouldn’t bully us anymore. Because they would know that that would be an invitation to their destruction.”
Huckabee, a former Baptist preacher, presumably would “destroy” bullies just as he destroyed English grammar in his statement. One might observe that if ending international bullying were even vaguely his objective he would start with Washington, which has been abusing the rest of the world since 9/11.
Huckabee’s fellow evangelical Senator Ted Cruz also had something to say, clearly on board with reordering the world in a more muscular Christian fashion, saying “… I also want to respond to several folks up here who said we should trust this Iranian deal, see if the Iranians will comply. Anyone who is paying attention to what Khamenei says knows that they will not comply. There is a reason Khamenei refers to Israel as the little Satan, and America as the great Satan. If I’m elected president our friends and allies across the globe will know that we stand with them. The bust of Winston Churchill will be back in the Oval Office, and the American embassy in Israel will be in Jerusalem.”
Normally semi-rational John Kasich came across as the moderate in the Iran discussion by virtue of not calling for immediate bombs away, stating “Secondly, nobody’s trusting Iran. They violate the deal, we put on the sanctions, and we have the high moral ground to talk to our allies in Europe to get them to go with us. If they don’t go with us, we slap the sanctions on anyway. If they fund these radical groups that threaten Israel and all of the West, then we should rip up the deal and put the sanctions back on.”
Senator Marco Rubio piled on with another complaint, “We are eviscerating our military. And we have a president that is more respectful to the ayatollah in Iran than he is to the prime minister of Israel.” And expanding on his plan to fly around and spread good will to our friends while confounding our enemies the peripatetic presidential wannabe added that “If I’m honored with the opportunity to be president, I hope that our Air Force One will fly, first and foremost, to our allies; in Israel, in South Korea, and Japan. They know we stand with them. That America can be counted on.”
Finally, New Jersey governor Chris Christie, who was clearly out of his depth even though the discussion was not exactly cerebral, iced the cake by concluding the foreign policy debate with “And I will tell you this, around the world, I will not shake hands with, I will not meet with, and I will not agree to anything with a country that says death to us and death to Israel and holds our hostages while we sign agreements with them. It will be an America that be strong and resolute, and will once again be able to stick out its chest and say, ‘we truly are the greatest nation in the world, because we live our lives that way, each and every day.’”
Christie’s rant was a fitting conclusion for the evening, underlining the essential Republican foreign policy message, which is that basically, as the esteemed George W. Bush put it, “you are either with us or against us.” We don’t have to talk to foreign leaders we don’t like and if they persist in the error of their ways we send in the cruise missiles. Only Senator Rand Paul and John Kasich indicated clearly that they would hesitate before the bombs start to drop.
GOP-think also has an underlying racist tone to it, with the presumption that those not quite Caucasian foreign people are not really like us, don’t think like us and can be shot or droned on sight when they fail to heed our advice. It’s not about Israel per se or about anything that would make sense to any disinterested observer. It is all about having a “security zone” that is global in reach and preempts the rights of anyone else. It is coupled with superpower hubris driven by an “exceptionalism”-derived unwillingness to treat people who are not Americans with any respect or consideration. Washington reflexively turns potential friends into enemies at every opportunity and perseveres in a foreign policy based on a whole basket of false premises that has been disastrous vis-à-vis any actual United States interests. Unfortunately for the American people the likely alternative to all this blatant and dangerous nonsense is Hillary.
The world in general, and Europe in specific, are finally confronted with the results of the Zionist made Middle Eastern catastrophes, starting with the 1948 Palestinian catastrophe (Al-Nakba) up to the present Syrian refugee crisis, that are parts and parcels of the Zionist colonial dream of creating “Greater Israel” extending from the river Nile in Egypt to Euphrates in Iraq, with Jerusalem as the capital of the Judaic New World Order. Zionists are seeking Jewish order out of Arab chaos.
Millions of Middle Eastern Arab refugees have been forcibly and savagely evacuated from their countries, made refugees, and maliciously driven out of the region towards Europe through the Mediterranean onto death-fated vessels and under the mercy of brutal human traffickers. Many end at the bottom of the sea, while many others end up in so-called humanitarian concentration camps with obscure futures in foreign lands with foreign languages and foreign cultures.
This refugee crisis is a military imposed Zionist-Jewish-made Arabian displacement from their own homeland, schemed a long time ago since the first Zionist Congress in 1897, whose graduated execution had started with the 1948 illegal establishment of colonial Israeli state in Palestine, and has been going on until this very day.
Theodor Herzl, the father of Zionism, wrote in his diaries in 1898 that “the Palestinians would be spirited across the border” out of the country. The Zionist David Ben-Gurion, who became the first Israeli prime minister, stated in a letter to his son: “We must expel Arabs and take their place.” He also has the cruel statement of “the old will die and the young will forget.”
Armed, financed, and politically supported and protected by the Zionist occupied successive American Administrations, the terrorist Israeli state waged aggressive wars against all its Arab neighbors. Despite all its superior military powers, the weakness and the division of Arab states, and the American and UN support and protection, Israel was not able to sustain its superiority and hegemony on the land due to some Palestinian freedom fighters such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad, and the Lebanese Hezbollah liberation movement. The Israeli army became exhausted and demoralized, and Israeli society became tired and wary of successive endless wars.
If Israel could not overcome a few resistance factions how could it, then, defeat well trained armies of other Arab countries; specifically Iraqi and Syrian armies? So, Zionist leaders sought to get the American army fight these wars in proxy for Israel.
Zionist 911 attack against Americans succeeded in spreading Islamophobia and pushing the US to start its endless wars in the Middle East. Iraq was the first victim and global terrorism was the justification. The US destroyed and devastated the country, uprooting in the process about 6,000,000 Iraqis, who sought refuge in some neighboring countries as well as in Europe.
Syria was next in line. Under the guise of Arab Spring and people’s struggle to attain democracy, mercenaries from virtually all over the world were recruited, trained and armed by Israel, US, UK, France, and Germany, and financed by Saudi and Qatari money, were shipped mainly through Turkey, and some through Jordan, into Syria to topple the government and to destroy the country.
Despite the hundreds of thousands of terrorist mercenaries and their use of the latest American made weapons, and chemical weapons, the Syrian Assad regime stood steadfast due to the army’s and people’s support to the regime, and also due to outside support from Lebanese Hezbollah, Iran, and Russia.
As each terrorist group gets defeated by the Syrian army, a new terrorist group is invented. While recruiting, arming and supporting these terrorists, the anti-Syrian alliance; US, NATO, Israel, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Jordan to little extent, pretend to fight these terrorists and claim that this fight would take long years as if these terrorists are part of a regular army backed by a strong economic government.
Claiming to be Moslems, although they don’t have the faintest idea what Islam really is, these terrorist groups are fighting a Judaic Talmudist style war; “kill men, women, children and even cattle, destroy their homes, burn their cities, and don’t leave any alive” as ordered by Jewish god, their prophets and their rabbis. ISIS has been doing just that.
This brutal war had created so far 11,000,000 displaced Syrian refugees. This is the largest forced civilian displacement in the whole world since 1945. With their homes destroyed, their cities bombed into ruins, their businesses looted and burned, and many of their family members savagely slain and theatrically beheaded, 4,000,000 Syrians left the country seeking refuge away from the brutality of war. A few went to still-politically divided Lebanon. Two million went to Jordan where they were isolated into unsanitary refugee camps in the remote desert with meager food rations while many Jordanian officials are depositing most of the allotted financial aid into their pockets or foreign banks. Yet other refugees went to Turkey, where they were covertly encouraged by human traffickers to migrate into the more “humanitarian and wealthier” European countries.
Except for casual media mention of refugees drowning in the Mediterranean, the waves of these displaced refugees went ignored in the media until the picture of Aylan Kurdi washed on the shore was published followed by the discovery of 71 suffocated refugee bodies in an abandoned truck on an Austrian highway.
Suddenly the media jumped on the issue and declared the existence of a humanitarian “immigration” crisis. Distorting the facts and avoiding the real issue this Zionist controlled media called the refugees “immigrants” or “political asylum seekers” rather than forced displaced refugees. They called on European countries to do their humanitarian duty of accepting and integrating these “immigrants” into their own societies. They heralded German Chancellor, Angela Merkel’s humanitarian gesture of accepting 500 thousand Syrian immigrants every year, and encourage other European leaders to follow her suit. Unfortunate for Merkel, her seemingly humanitarian gesture would not, and could not mask her country’s role in arming terrorist Israel and ISIS. Germany is the third largest weapon exporter to the Middle East.
Notably, and astonishingly one may think, there are many European Jewish organizations, who are exhibiting their alleged humanitarian duty by urging European governments to accept Syrian refugees. They have also been organizing alleged Jewish humanitarian groups to help the Syrian refugees, although they are, as these Jews claim, anti-Semites. This seemingly Jewish humanitarian gesture, in my opinion, is a Zionist double edge cutting sword. On one edge it cuts the Arab majority vis-à-vis Jews in the Middle East, reducing the effect of what the Israelis call “the demographic bomb” by evacuating from the region as many indigenous Arab inhabitants as possible; millions of Arabs in this particular case. On the other edge it cuts the integrity and racial and cultural cohesiveness of European nations. Integrating large numbers of Arabs into Europe would definitely dilute its identity and cultural values.
Finding themselves in a foreign country with foreign language and culture, Middle Eastern refugees would tend to aggregate into their own separate communities (little Syrian towns) in order to feel safe and to preserve their own identity and culture. Such aggregation is a noticeable phenomenon in American coastal states; little China Town, Korea Town, Little Italy and the like. Besides the economic burden on their host countries, their existence would create unavoidable segregation, discrimination, racism, favoritism, exploitation, clash of cultures and ideologies, Islamophobia, homophobia, and crimes.
Many have called on the Arab World, especially the oil rich Gulf States, whose princes and leaders are among the richest people on the globe, to own and absorb the Syrian refugees. After all, these refugees are Arab and the majority are Moslems, and would be integrated harmoniously into similar Arab and Moslem countries. Unfortunately, being virtually occupied by the existent American military bases, these rich Gulf States are in reality part of the problem and could not be part of the solution. Saudi Arabia has lately revealed its Zionist color when it’s former Saudi general and ambassador to the U.S.; Anwar Eshki, who is a close adviser to King Salman, gave an interview to Israel’s Channel 10 news praising Netanyahu and admiring his courage, and stating that Saudi Arabia and Israel are facing one common enemy; Iran. He has been meeting with Israel’s Foreign Ministry Director-General; Dore Gold.
The Arab League, whose declared job is to maintain Arab unity and solve their problems, had been, actually, created to do just the opposite. The Arab League has never succeeded in solving any of the Arab issues, and had kept the Arab states divided. The League’s decisions are mainly anti-Arab. Amr Mousa, the previous Secretary-General, gave the green light to NATO forces to bomb and destroy Libya killing between 30 -50 thousand citizens, and the displacement of 3,000,000 more into the neighboring countries. The League also has formed an anti-Yemen coalition that is destroying Yemen and killing its citizens. Keep in mind that such coalition was paid for and enforced by Saudi Arabia.
Nabil Elaraby, the present Secretary-General of the Arab League, had made the decision to cancel Syrian membership in the League, had approved shipping arms to the anti-Syrian terrorist groups, and had blamed Syrian Assad for creating the refugee crisis. He declared that there is no formal decision to deal with the refugees. Let’s remember that Syria did not wait for any League’s formal decision to take in Palestinian, Lebanese, and Iraqi refugees during the last few decades.
The apparent well-known cause of this displaced refugee crisis is ignored by the Zionist controlled Western media and political puppets. The Zionist American administration, its European crony governments, and the Gulf rich puppets had created mercenary Salafist Wahhabi terrorist groups; Al-Qaeda, Free Syrian Army, Al-Nusra, ISIS, IS and other factions, and released them onto Syria to disintegrate its government and to destroy the whole country. In an effort to prolong this destructive war as long as possible, the American and British helicopters routinely drop weapons, drugs and money to these terrorist groups. American fighter planes and drones, Israeli fighter planes, and lately joined by Turkish fighter planes are bombing Syrian forces under the pretense of bombing IS terrorists.
Yet these terrorist supporting leaders, and Zionist controlled media, have the audacity to ignore their satanic role in this war and to recommend their own colonial solution. They are diverting the blame unto the democratically elected Syrian Assad regime, and are using the refugee tragedy to justify and encourage further “military intervention” in the Middle East that would accomplish the Zionist dream; aggravating the tragedy rather than solving it. Zionist puppet British Prime Minister David Cameron, for one example, accused Assad of “butchering his own people”, called for Assad’s assassination, and for carpet bombing of Damascus.
Sadly, the Western political leaders are infected with the Zionist war mongering madness, while the masses lack the proper financed organization to deny them the decision to wage wars